What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Medication Risks

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 22, 2019
What Caregivers Should Know about Seniors and Medication Risks
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If you are an adult child of a senior, you may find yourself worrying about how well they are managing their medications. Seniors often live with health conditions that can require multiple medications.

In fact, physicians say it isn’t uncommon for older patients to be taking as many as twenty medications. With so many medications for an older adult to manage, it’s easy to understand how mistakes happen.

Medication Mistakes and Older Adults

Some of the most common mistakes older adults make are:

  • Timing issues: Medications for some health conditions, such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, are time-sensitive. Each dose must be taken at the right time. If an older adult is busy or has memory loss, they can easily forget to take a dose or accidentally take dosages too close together.
  • Dosage errors: When an older adult takes multiple medications every day, keeping track of each dosage can be challenging. A senior might take too much of one and not enough of another. That can lead to an accidental overdose or another type of medical emergency if an important medication is missed.
  • Vision loss consequences: As we age, vision loss becomes increasingly common. It often makes reading the small print on prescription bottles difficult. This can easily lead to mistakes or missed dosages.
  • Adverse reactions and drug interactions: Older adults metabolize medications at a different rate than younger people. Seniors usually require a smaller dosage. A senior may suffer an accidental overdose because their body doesn’t metabolize a dosage quickly enough. It’s also more common for older adults to experience interactions between their medications.
  • Medication modifications: An older adult might have a health condition that makes swallowing difficult. Due to a fear of choking, they may cut their pills in half or crush and mix them into food. Changing the format of a medication can be dangerous. It can make the medication ineffective or even harmful if it has a time release component.
  • Improper storage: Many people are unaware of how important it is to properly store medications. Most opt to keep their medicine in the kitchen or bathroom where water is easily accessed. These are typically the two worst rooms in the home to store medications. Temperature and humidity often fluctuate in these rooms, which can negatively impact the medication. A better option is a high bedroom drawer that is out of reach of grandkids.

Medication Support at Sunrise Communities

One of the most utilized services at Sunrise Senior Living communities is medication coordination. Our professional caregiving team oversees every detail of managing residents’ medications, from ordering prescriptions to administering dosages. Call the Sunrise community nearest you to learn more!